Sorry in advance for this rather wordy post. I’m writing this mainly so I have something to look back on and remember how it all went down. Feel free to skip this post if you’re not interested!…but seriously, you should at least scroll through the pictures
I apologize for my lengthy time off from the blog. To say I’ve been overwhelmed with my little bundle of joy would be an understatement, as he’s now almost 5 weeks old (!). I’ll write another post soon on how life with a newborn has been and talk about my favorite baby products, but in the meantime I’ll share my adorable son’s birth story…mainly for my own records but also for those that are interested I always love reading these on other blogs.
On Monday August 25th, I went in for my 38 week appointment at my OB/GYN. I was hoping that this time the doc would say I had “dropped” since I hadn’t yet at my 37 week. The doc examined me and said that my cervix was still really high and the baby hadn’t dropped yet. She also expressed a small concern that perhaps his head was coming down at a weird angle or was too big for my pelvis, since it was unusual for first-time moms to not have dropped by 2-3 weeks before the baby was due.
I went home assuming this baby would be coming late and that I would need a c-section. I did a lot of research on when babies drop and found that there were plenty of first-time moms that didn’t drop until they went into labor. I stopped worrying and just tried to get through my days. I was feeling huge and taking naps at around 2pm daily for 1-2 hrs.
Tuesday and Wednesday went by normally. Then Thursday I woke up at around midnight with MAJOR back pain. It was similar to the pain I had when I went to hospital several weeks before, but it felt even worse. I tried getting up to go to the bathroom and could barely make it back to bed. I laid in bed moaning and wimpering for about an hour, hoping Nate would wake up but at the same time not wanting to wake him up. He had a follow-up doc appointment in the morning (for his kidney stones) that I was supposed to bring him to before work, and I was wondering how I’d get there feeling the way I was.
Finally at around 1:30am, I woke Nate up telling him I was in extreme pain but didn’t think it was labor. I wasn’t having any contractions other than the occassional Braxton-Hicks that I had been having my whole third trimester. He got up with me and we went to the hospital’s PET unit were they admitted me fairly quickly. After a lot of waiting (during which time I was moaning loudly in pain), a doc finally came in to see me. She did an internal check and said I was 1 cm dilated but that my cervix was still really high. They said the back pain was probably from the way the baby was positioned and that I was in pre-labor but that it could still be a week or more til the baby came.
At this point, it was approaching 5am and Nate had to get to his doc appointment at 7:30 and then go off to work, so I told him he might as well leave me there and go home. I checked in with my aunt who lives locally, to make sure she’d be able to come pick me up later in the day when they discharged me. Poor Nate went to his appointment and then had to go to work on about 2 hours of sleep!
In the meantime, I was in so much pain I kept throwing up. They asked me if I wanted to go home or if I wanted to be admitted for a “Morphine rest,” where they’d basically give me pain meds and allow me to sleep. I was in so much pain that I chose that option. I was able to rest semi-comfortably and drift in and out of sleep til the morphine wore off around noon. They checked me again and said I was still 1cm dilated so I definitely wasn’t in active labor, but that my heart rate was too low for them to give me more morphine. They gave me a mega dose of tylenol thru an IV and let me sleep a little longer.
Finally the pain seemed to have subsided around 4-5pm and they said they would discharge me. They told me to come back if my water broke, I started bleeding, or I had regular contractions. I called my aunt to come get me, and they finally gave me some juice, water and crackers since I had not eaten and drank anything the whole day. My aunt picked me up around 6 and after about 30 seconds in the car she had to pull over so I could throw up again…unfortunately everything I had just eaten. We got home and I tried to drink some gatorade to hydrate and then to take a nap but really had no appetite.
I got about 10 min of rest and then around 6:45 pm I noticed I was having regular, semi-painful contractions. I started timing them and they were ranging from 5-8 min apart. At this point, Nate had gotten home but my aunt was still with me. Nate was essentially a zombie since he’d gotten so little sleep, so I told him to nap since if I was actually in labor I would need him awake later. I called the doctor’s answering service and the doctor on call told me that I shouldn’t go to the hospital until the contractions were 4 minutes apart for 2 hours.
I then called my Doula since she was supposed to be with me at home during the beginning stages of labor and then would go to the hospital with me. After leaving her two voicemails, she finally called me back and told me that she was on vacation down in Baltimore since I wasn’t due for 10 more days. She called her backup doula, who I’d never met, and she called me within 30 min. She was very sweet and after having to pause to moan through the pain of my contractions, she said she could hear that I was definitely in labor. At this point it was around 9pm and my contractions still varied from 3 min to about 6 min. She told me to check back in at 10pm and we’d decide if she should head over to my house (she lived about 30 min away).
I called her back at 10 and by the sound my contractions she decided she should head over immediately. Oh yeah, and did I mention we hadn’t gotten around to packing my hospital bag yet since we were going to do it that weekend?! Nate and my aunt threw some stuff together in a bag at my direction. About 30 min later the doula still wasn’t at my house and she called to say there was major traffic on the highway. I had another contraction while on the phone with her and she said that it sounded like I should go to the hospital immediately and she would meet me there instead of at my house. My aunt and I decided to let Nate keep sleeping since we assumed it would be a while til the baby arrived, so she drove me to the hospital.
I hobbled through the hospital entrance while my aunt parked and they immediately got me a wheelchair and brought me up to the PET unit. They admitted me again and within a couple minutes of getting there, the backup doula, Miriam, arrived as well. Coincidentally, the doctor from my visit that morning was back on shift and saw me again. She checked me out and said I was 2-3 cm dilated. At this point I was in MAJOR pain. Every contraction had me screaming and moaning- I had no idea I would be so loud! Miriam massaged my back through them. We decided it would be best if I tried to take a walk down the hall. We walked for about 10-15 min with me pausing to moan…ok, more like scream…and have Miriam massage my back with each contraction. I couldn’t take it any longer and got back in bed. Miriam had me get on all fours on the bed every time a contraction came.
A couple hours later the doc came in to check me and said I was at 3 cm. She asked me about my birthing plan and if I had thought I’d get an epidural. I told her that I really wanted to try for a natural delivery. She told me that if I didn’t get an epidural, they’d have to send me home because I wasn’t progressing enough to be admitted. The doula was furious (I was in NO SHAPE to get back in a car and go home), so she begged the doc to give me another hour to progress. The doc said that everytime I got on my hands and knees, the machine couldn’t measure my contraction, so she told Miriam to time them so she’d know how far apart they were.
Finally an hour passed, and then I stalled them a little more by going to the bathroom, and finally the doc came back to check me. Miriam told her my contractions were every 3 min now, and when the doc checked, I was at 4 cm. She agreed to admit me! THANK GOD.
At this point we thought it would be a good idea to call Nate to come to the hospital. I think it was around 3 am. He had gotten at least a little bit of sleep. They wheeled me over to the labor and delivery room since I couldn’t even walk at this point. I remember getting a contraction right when they wanted me to get off one bed and onto the other and I couldn’t do it because I had to get through the contraction. From my memory, the nurses were annoyed. Immediately after that contraction, I started throwing up again- remember again that I hadn’t eaten or drank at all in over 24 hours now. At this point I decided I wanted an epidural. It wasn’t originally something I wanted to do, mainly because I’m allergic to all kinds of things and it scared me that I’d have some horrible reaction. Miriam told me that most women don’t start labor with the amount of pain I seemed to be having, and that I should get an epidural if I wanted one. She said she had one with her first child as well.
The anesthesiologist came in right about the same time that Nate arrived. Nate heard me going through one of my contractions and apparently felt so bad for me. They made everyone leave the room while the anesthesiologist gave me the epidural. He told me it would kick in in about 20 min. Everyone came back in the room and I laid back in bed. For the next 20ish minutes I felt my contractions but they weren’t as bad as before. Finally, I could barely feel them…or my legs. WHAT a relief! Getting that epidural was the best decision I’ve ever made, hands down.
I was finally able to lay back and enjoy what was about to happen. Nate, Miriam and I chatted on and off for several hours. At this point it was around 5am and Miriam told me that she had been talking with the other doula, Chana, because she had to leave to meet with a patient at 9am (she’s also a nurse). Chana was going to drive up from Baltimore and switch places with her. Miriam was so nice, and by this point we had really bonded with her. She was very sad she was going to miss the actual birth.
The doctor checked me a couple times and I got to around 7 cm. It was at that point that I stalled a bit. She decided to give me pitocin to make my contractions a little more productive since I wasn’t making much progress on my own. She said I shouldn’t feel it since I was on the epidural.
Chana arrived and Miriam left. I was definitely feeling the contractions more, since they were stronger, even with the epidural. The epidural had a little button that you could press to admisiter more medicine to yourself (it wouldn’t let you go past a certain point though). Chana encouraged me to press the button to relieve the discomfort since that was, afterall, why I had gotten the epidural.
The doc came back and checked me around 11:30am Friday morning and said I was fully dilated and ready to push. It was at this point that my OB/GYN came in. I chatted with her for a bit and told her I’d really like her to wait to cut the umbilical cord until it stopped pulsing, because I had read it was much better for the baby (they get all kinds of nutrients). She said that would be fine.
Around 11:55am I started pushing. Pushing was definitely an odd sensation since I really couldn’t feel anything due to the epidural. The nurses, doula and doctor all said I was doing really great, which was encouraging. They said they could see his head. I didn’t think I’d want to see what was going on, but when it actually came time for it, I asked them for a mirror so I could see my progress. It was really cool to see his head crowning and made me want to get him out of there so badly!
Finally I pushed enough that his head came out. The doc told me to stop pushing and that the cord was wrapped around his neck. She told me she’d have to cut it asap and made sure it was ok with me since I had requested before that they wait to do it. Obviously I let her since I was worried the baby couldn’t breathe. She cut the cord and had me push a little more and out he came!
They put him on my chest but his face was blue and he wasn’t crying so they whisked him over to the warming table where a bunch of nurses swarmed around him. He still hadn’t cried, and Nate and I started freaking out but the doc assured us that this was common. The nurses sucked a ton of fluid out of his mouth and nose and finally, we heard the tiniest of cries. We were SO relieved. They kept him over there for some time to get him pink and check him out, at which point he peed all over everyone
After he was doing well, they brought him over to me and I got to put him on my skin. He was the cutest baby ever! Nate and I couldn’t stop staring at him…
I honestly can’t believe it’s been a whole month since I gave birth to Berkeley. We’ve had a baby nurse this whole time who just finally left on Thursday. I still don’t really feel like a mom yet. I think it’s because the only time I really get to spend with him is when I’m breastfeeding and then he goes right back to sleep- well, at least he used to. Several days ago he entered a fussy stage and we’re not sure if it’s colic, reflux or something else, but that’s a story for another day…